Athlete Profiles: Simon (& Vanessa)

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Most of you know Simon and Vanessa. They started training with us early this year after being told about CrossFit by Kelly Starrett while living in San Francisco. Without getting into the nitty gritty anatomical details, I’ll say that Simon’s knees are well…. a little worn out. Because of his history of degeneration, pain and swelling we started by having him squat to a 24″ box (with maybe even some plates on it) VERY slowly and VERY carefully. In the last 6 years the story of Simon’s knees didn’t suggest that there were going to be any signs of improvement. To be honest, his knees made us pretty nervous when we met him in Foundations! So he became the master of modifications and has made friends with the rowing erg when we run in ways that only Brad understands. Slowly over the last 7 months Simon’s squatting target has changed (shrunk). Last week I noticed that while he was squatting to a plate with a ball on it that he was hardly touching it and pretty much hitting parallel. I said to him that it was only a matter of time…. and then yesterday I looked over and Simon was setting up for the rowing/thruster wod with NO modifications. And he did it, minus an inch or 2 of range here or there 😉 I think that maybe you would have had to witness this progression and known where Simon came from to fully appreciate how amazing this is. This is what CrossFit means to Jesse and I: safe, careful use of functional movements to increase performance. Simon’s progress speaks volumes to his determination, commitment and patience.

Vanessa, on the other hand, has had her own challenges to work with. Having systemically loose ligaments has meant that her muscles have had to work hard to learn to stabilize her shoulders through full range of motion. This hasn’t been an easy task either. We have had to carefully manage an unhappy rotator cuff through the spring and early summer. Learning functional movements can surface some funny things in our bodies. Unfortunately sometimes the health care world can be less than supportive in the quest to get strong (that’s all I’m going to say about that) and Vanessa felt like she had some decisions to make. She chose to make a commitment to move forward with her training; being careful and knowing when to hold back and when to push the threshold in workouts. She has been amazing at working with Jesse and I to help her progress through what I have called a slight “road bump” in her learning curve. She is now able to work with the barbell, not just PVC, and is feeling pretty darn good (you may have on occasion witnessed her jumping up and down with excitement after workouts that use her shoulder pain free; you’d think she had won something big). She even PR’d all three of her lifts in the last CrossFit Total!

On top of all that, they have both recently converted to eating Paleo which probably seemed like more of an impossibility to them than the knee/shoulder stuff… At Jesse’s paleo talk Vanessa exclaimed (like she had been tricked) “What?! You didn’t tell me there is NO dairy in the paleo diet!!!”. She’s was a pasta eating/slightly vegetarian Italian.

Thanks for letting me post this Vanessa (I asked her how Simon would feel about being profiled). Sorry I didn’t tell you it was going to be about you too!

It’s because I think you guys are amazing. Your attitudes are contagious at 7am and I wanted to share them with everyone else.

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